For Rosenhain and Göpel
From Tom Stoppard's play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead"
GUIL: Yes, one must think of the future.
ROS: It's the normal thing.
GUIL: To have one. One is, after all, having it all the time now… and now… and now…
ROS: It could go on for ever. Well, not for ever, I suppose. (Pause.) Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with a lid on it?
ROS: Nor do I, really… It's silly to be depressed by it. I mean one thinks of it like being alive in a box, one keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead… which should make all the difference… shouldn't it? I mean, you'd never know you were in a box, would you? It would be just like being asleep in a box. Not that I'd like to sleep in a box, mind you, not without any air— you'd wake up dead, for a start, and then where would you be? Apart from inside a box. That's the bit I don't like, frankly. That's why I don't think of it.
(GUIL stirs restlessly, pulling his cloak round him.)
Because you'd be helpless, wouldn't you? Stuffed in a box like that, I mean you'd be in there for ever. Even taking into account the fact that you're dead, it isn't a pleasant thought. Especially if you're dead, really… ask yourself, if I asked you straight off— I'm going to stuff you in this box now, would you rather be alive or dead? Naturally, you'd prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect. You'd have a chance at least. You could lie there thinking well, at least I'm not dead! In a minute someone's going to bang on the lid and tell me to come out. (Banging the floor with his fists.) "Hey you, whatsyername! Come out of there!"
GUIL (jumps up savagely) : You don't have to flog it to death!
ROS: I wouldn't think about it, if I were you. You'd only get depressed. (Pause.) Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where's it going to end? (Pause, then brightly.) Two early Christians chanced to meet in Heaven. "Saul of Tarsus yet!" cried one. "What are you doing here?!"… "Tarsus-Schmarsus," replied the other, "I'm Paul already." (He stands up restlessly and flaps his arms.) They don't care. We count for nothing. We could remain silent till we're green in the face, they wouldn't come.
Related material: Quotes from H. F. Baker in posts from March 2011—
A Many-Sided Theory and Remarks on Reality.
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